Contemporary Issues in Bioethics and Health Humanities Series – Lunchtime Seminar
Title: “Breaking Barriers: Achieving Disability Justice and Inclusion in Society”
Date: 8 June, 2023 (Thursday)
Time: 12:30 – 2:00 pm
Venue: Rm 608, 6/F, William M W Mong Block, 21 Sassoon Road
Mode: In-person and online via Zoom
* Refreshment will be provided for all participants.
Disability inequality is routinely normalized based on presumed biological differences, while social and structural constraints are dismissed or ignored. This seminar features two ethics and social work scholars advocating the inclusion of people with differences. Dr Chui discusses complex and interdependent dynamics between policy, organisational culture, and individual-level factors that shape the opportunities and work experiences of persons with visual impairment in Hong Kong. Dr Bergstresser presents her ethical analysis focusing on genetic reductionism, social determinants of disease, and injustice during the Covid-19 pandemic for individuals with intellectual, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities.
Dr Sara Bergstresser
Lecturer in the Masters of Bioethics Program, Columbia University
Sara Bergstresser teaches courses on disability and bioethics and mental health ethics at Columbia University. She earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Brown University, a masters of public health from Harvard School of Public Health, and an M.S. in bioethics from Columbia. Sara has also been an NIH postdoctoral fellow in mental health policy at Harvard Medical School and in psychiatric epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.
Sara works on topics of mental health policy and institutionalization with a focus on disability studies, human rights and anti-carceral frameworks. Her doctoral research in anthropology focused on deinstitutionalization and community mental health care in Italy. She continues to work in international comparative mental health policy with particular focus on involuntary treatment, autonomy and the history of “dangerousness.” Her more recent work also incorporates global bioethics.
Paper Topic: Genetic Reductionism is Disability Injustice: Cases across Cultures and Histories
This paper considers disability injustice related to biological reductionism, which is a social and scientific tendency to prioritize the study of hypothetical biological differences over clear examples of social inequality. It will address ways in which biological reductionism and medicalization continue to be used to conceal or deny systemic inequality. Inequality is routinely normalized based on presumed biological differences while social and structural constraints are dismissed or ignored.
The primary case to be analyzed focuses on the US and UK, and it considers genetic reductionism, social determinants of disease, and injustice during the Covid-19 pandemic for individuals with intellectual, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities. Additional cases will address emerging technologies and the question of eugenics in cross-cultural and historical perspectives. In particular, these themes will be considered in the US, European, and Hong Kong contexts, identifying similarities and differences in cultural values and attitudes towards genetic technologies.
Dr Cheryl Chui
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work & Social Administration, HKU
Dr Chui’s research examines the role of civil society actors including nonprofits, social enterprises, social businesses and other hybrid organizations in facilitating positive change at the individual, community, and policy levels. She is leading several projects investigating the interface between social entrepreneurship and inclusion of people with differences. As both a researcher and a registered social worker, Dr Chui advocates for cross-sector, socially innovative, and community-based solutions in face of increasingly complex societal challenges. She is principal and co-investigator to external competitive research grants funded by the Research Grants Council; government-commissioned projects funded by the Labour and Welfare Bureau, the Policy Innovation and Coordination Office (PICO), and the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Paper Topic: Engendering disability-inclusive employment for persons with visual impairment: enablers and barriers
Despite decades of disability rights advocacy, persons with disabilities continue to exhibit disproportionately lower labour force participation rates and job retention, as well as poorer quality of life and psychological wellbeing compared to the general population. Drawing on interview data with 45 persons with visual impairment in Hong Kong, this study applies the concept of co-production to examine the enablers and barriers of disability-inclusive employment. Results reveal the complex and interdependent dynamics between policy, organisational culture, and individual-level factors that together shape the opportunities and work experiences of persons with disabilities. Findings carry important implications for formal and informal organisational structures and processes in facilitating workplace inclusion. Best practice examples are discussed.
Dr Olivia Ngan
Research Assistant Professor, Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, HKUMed
** Columbia University Master of Bioethics Program information session starts immediately after the talk.
Welcome to join us!
Enquiry: Please contact Ms. May Fung (email@example.com).
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